“Another calculation is speculative. Those who are in search of knowledge also speculate on Krishna and consider Him to be less important than the universal form of the Supreme. Thus some think that the universal form of Krishna which was manifested to Arjuna is more important than His personal form. According to them, the personal form of the Supreme is something imaginary. They believe that in the ultimate issue, the Absolute Truth is not a person. But the transcendental process is described in Bhagavad-gita, Chapter Two: to hear about Krishna from authorities.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 11.52 Purport)Download this episode (right click and save)
Imagine that you lived a distinguished life. You lived it exactly how you wanted to. In whatever endeavor you preferred, you were able to succeed. The perennial enemies of fear, doubt, idleness, and overindulgence in unprofitable delights could not defeat you. You succeeded to the point that people ended up knowing who you were.
They even wrote books about your activities. A biographer, someone who wasn’t tied to your family or friends, who wasn’t even interested in your particular line of work, decided to research your life and history. They took accounts of your activities from others and pieced them together to write their own version of your life. They read between the lines of your letters to your friends and family. They came up with their own narrative of your life’s path, though you yourself likely weren’t so cunning or manipulative as they made you out to be.
Then some time passes and someone says you don’t exist.
“Nah, he’s just a figment of the imagination. Someone created him. I don’t care what’s written. Don’t you see that people make up stuff all the time right now? This person was supposedly on the earth so many years ago. Times have changed greatly. People back then would make up stories all the time. If he did indeed exist, I think he was just an ordinary fellow. The admirers then embellished his accomplishments to make him look bigger. Regardless, I think he’s just a figment of the imagination.”
Indeed, as centuries pass, the conditions of society do shift drastically. We can hardly imagine today what it was like to live in the early centuries of the Christian calendar. And yet we know that people lived during that time. Therefore to blanketly say that any person from that time is fictitious is a little silly. Just as we know that we exist today, we can believe with firm faith that others existed in the past. This is called the continuation of life, where different souls travel to different bodies, from death to birth and so on.
“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)
There is a collection of sacred texts available today that are informally known as the Vedas. They originate from the area today known as India, and they describe many divine beings. The person considered the supreme is Shri Krishna. Described as Bhagavan in the Shrimad Bhagavatam, Mahabharata and other works, the English translation for the word chosen by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is “Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
The use of this term is intentional, and for more reasons than just its accuracy. There is a class of transcendentalists supposedly following the teachings of the Vedas who think that Krishna doesn’t exist.
“He is simply made up, don’t you see? The sages living in ancient times knew the truth, but they also understood that the people in general are not very intelligent. Therefore they presented the truth in a hidden way, through allegory, simile, and mythology. Krishna is part of the mythological aspect. We are meant to understand the symbolism behind Krishna, not to take the verses of sacred texts literally.”
They also say things like, “We need to surrender to the Krishna inside us all. Krishna is light; Krishna is truth. He is the goodness that we all strive for.”
Such commentary may sound erudite, but it has no basis in fact. Nowhere in the Vedas is it said that the descriptions of Krishna are mythology. Indeed, that supreme person who supposedly doesn’t really exist reveals truths that are timeless in their value. Nowhere else do we learn so much in so short a work as the Bhagavad-gita. Krishna speaks of reincarnation, the eternality of the soul, the relationship of the individual to the Supreme, and the ultimate objective in life. The principles themselves are flawless, and they come from a real person.
Those who follow Krishna’s teachings faithfully have good reason to feel offended when others say that the Lord doesn’t exist. So much more is written about Him than any other divine figure of notable fame. Krishna’s body of work is described in many texts, not just one. His direct words persist to this day in the original language they were spoken, Sanskrit. The works of the Vedas describe His features in meticulous detail, to the point that we have beautiful paintings available of Him today.
“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion - at that time I descend Myself.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 4.7)
The descents of the divine have a purpose. They teach so many valuable lessons and they facilitate connection to Him, which is what everyone inherently seeks. To deny the factual occurrence of these descents is to deny the existence of God itself. In that denial, the fool making the claim must acknowledge someone who is the most superior authority. The “everyone is God” model doesn’t work since everyone is flawed and must die. The only “God” left then is material nature, which even the less intelligent already accept as their deity.
And so the speculators who say that Krishna isn’t real or that He is an ordinary living entity greatly offend the original personality Himself and those who kindly wrote about Him. The devoted souls are more than justified in their repeated verbal attacks in defense of Krishna. Just as we wouldn’t like it if someone later on says that we never existed, so the saintly people who follow Krishna’s flawless teachings very much don’t like to hear anyone claim that their beloved Shyamasundara, the author of everything good in this world, never walked the sacred ground of Vrindavana, where He gave pleasure to the cows and the senses and enjoyed with His friends and well-wishers.
“In folly only you persist,
Don’t you know He didn’t exist?
That they saw Him others say,
But that it’s true no possible way.”
Of Krishna this the foolish will claim,
Though upset would be if treated the same.
Evidence of Krishna in Vedas found plenty quite,
So to always defend beloved saints have every right.